Twitter blocked sofware that provided user data to Police

Privacy Hit, What the Hack

Twitter blocked Social Media Monitoring firms access to user data.png

Twitter has terminated access to user data for social-media monitoring tool Media Sonar. Media Sonar is a Canadian company that provides social-media monitoring service to U.S. police departments.

The Media Sonar offered service to police in allegedly identifying illegal activity. This is done by flagging keywords referencing drugs, bullying, prostitution and many others.

Twitter has done this citing company policies focused to protect users against the secret collection of data by law enforcement agencies.

Instagram and Twitter are major sources of geo-specific data captured by alleged “social media monitoring” companies.

Media Sonar is not the only firm who provides Social media monitoring services to the Law enforcement agencies. The company like Geofeedia also provides such services who was ousted by Twitter in past.

How does software like Media Sonar works?

Media Sonar, and software like it, builds profiles of social media users based on their posts, links, and context in their databases. Users who tweets using specific hashtag are also profiled in the software database as threat to the public safety.

Hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter, #imunarmed, and #iammikebrown are profiled.

The firm does not stops here, it assigns each individuals “threat levels” of green, yellow, or red based on their social media activity. The software also collects user’s location data and store in their databases.

Such surveillance of Twitter user’s data violates company’s policy said Twitter’s spokesperson.

In a blogpost, Chris Moody said “Recent reports about Twitter data being used for surveillance, however, have caused us great concern. As a company, our commitment to social justice is core to our mission and well established.”

Following the company policy, Twitter has blocked user data access to social media monitoring firms like Media Sonar and Geofeedia. Reportedly, after being denied from twitter and Facebook user data Geofeedia had layoff half of its employee.